Nelson asked:

Joshua 11 talks about Israel defeating various armies. How is it that God seems to be allowing an immoral act to take place on a grand scale so that Israel can be victorious?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"One of the things that is thorny about the Old Testament is these passages where God appears to command either ethnic cleansing or genocide and there have been different solutions proposed to this down through the centuries.

One of the solutions takes these passages literally and it says God literally commanded this. And it then goes on to try to explain why that's okay for God to do that and the basic idea is that God's the author of life, and all life is a gift. And so it is up to God how much of that gift any given person receives. It's also consequently up to God to determine the time and the manner of an individual's death... If anybody dies innocently, God can more than make that up to the person in the next life.

...that doesn't mean according to this interpretation that a person is guaranteed any particular length of life or any particular manner of death. And so whereas where it would be wrong for us on our own authority to take the life of another, we're not empowered by God to make that determination apart from cases like self defense and the death penalty and things like that...

Another interpretation that has been proposed that these passages are not meant to be taken literally. That they were written a substantial amount of time after the events in question and what they're really doing is showing the incompatability of paganism with faith in the true God. And so they were communicating to the Israelites that they really must have nothing to do with these various pagan religions and this is conveyed to the Israelites through the use of these commands which were not meant to be applied in their own day. These are talking about historical events that occurred long before these books were actualy written and so it's a way of framing history in terms of the sharp divide between paganism and the worship of the true God. That's an interpretation for example that's proposed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in a document that came out, I believe in 2014 on the inspiration and truth of scripture..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2016)

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. For the complete response download the podcast.

Click icon for archived podcast answering this question in its entirety.

Show air date: June 16, 2016

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 14:18

Social: Share:

This site is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

"...and upon this rock I will build My Church..." Matthew 16:18